Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reported payments of at least $5,000 for a speaking engagement with the Kremlin-funded English language network RT, new documents released Saturday by the White House show, though Flynn didn’t originally include the payment when he first filed his ethics forms in January.
That RT payment and two others from companies with Russian ties – for U.S.-based speaking engagements involving the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Government Security Solutions and Volga-Dnepr Airlines – are listed in an amended financial disclosure form Flynn delivered to the White House on Friday, more than a month after he stepped down from his top post under President Donald Trump.
The disclosures were part of a more comprehensive recounting of his private sector work and assets that the White House only asked for this week – long after the retired Army general was tapped to be Trump’s national security chief and his subsequent ousting amid controversy over how forthcoming he was with Vice President Mike Pence and other senior aides over his pre-inauguration communications with the Russian ambassador.
“He disclosed the speaker bureau arrangement [in January] and when asked to update the form with specific speaking events he did so,” Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner told POLITICO on Saturday.
The two forms released by the White House show that Flynn, who retired from the Army in 2014 after being replaced as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, quickly cashed in on his experience and access by working with more than a dozen Washington D.C. consulting firms and Silicon Valley tech companies seeking to expand their federal government contracts — despite his own public condemnation of fellow retired generals who quickly leverage their status in the private sector.
In an interview last summer with the Washington Post, Flynn had criticized fellow retired military officers for taking advantage of the lucrative market for retired military leaders with secret clearances and deep relationships in the Pentagon.
“What do generals do when they get out?” Flynn said. “One of the big companies in Arlington [Virginia] just put out a little call saying, ‘we are looking for two two-stars and two retired one-stars.’”
Asked what point he was making, he continued: “Why? Because people want to use that person for themselves, for their company. That’s why I didn’t go to work for anybody because I wanted to make my decision for what I wanted to do.”
But Flynn appears to have been doing exactly what he said he wasn’t doing.
He was working for a slew of high-tech firms including Palo Alto Network and Adobe Systems Inc. – as well as a variety of military consulting companies and Pentagon contractors, including secretive intelligence firms such as Ulysses Group, a South Carolina outfit, and GreenZone Systems, an Arlington, Virginia-based contractor that makes “military-grade” secure communications systems.
The forms also show Flynn served as a consultant for the FBI, which is now investigating Flynn and other Trump campaign officials for possible ties with the Russian government when it hacked into Democratic Party organizations and individuals in an attempt to help the real estate mogul’s presidential candidacy.
Flynn’s biggest financial haul appears to have come from his own private consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, where he earned a salary and bonuses of $827,000, plus another $50,000 to $100,000 payment for undisclosed reasons, the document show.
His firm’s clients are not disclosed.
Likely to get most scrutiny, however, are Flynn’s ties to the Russian firms.
In the original January ethics filing, Flynn made no mention of the payments from RT, Moscow-based Kaspersky Government Security Solutions or Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which is based in Ulyanovsk, Russia.
Instead, he only disclosed that he’d earned income from the Washington-based speaker’s bureau Leading Authorities LLC. The ethics process commonly involves back and forth negotiations between the White House counsel’s office and the Office of Government Ethics as employees are vetted, but the effort was suspended when Flynn left his job, Flynn’s attorney said.
White House aides then requested Flynn update his forms earlier this week — ahead of the wider Friday relese of materials for more than 180 Trump staffers. It’s in the amended form that Flynn offers an itemized account of any payments he got over $5,000.
This isn’t the first disclosure lapse for the retired Army lieutenant general. His ouster less than a month into his White House job came after he failed to notify fellow Trump officials, including Pence, that he had discussed economic sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.
Earlier this month, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings also released documents showing Flynn made nearly $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russian-related organizations, including more than $45,000 from RT tied to a December 2015 trip to Moscow where he sat near Russian President Vladimir Putin during the network’s 10th anniversary party.
Flynn also was paid $11,250 each for the Kaspersky and Volga-Dnepr speeches that were made in Washington, according to the Washington Post.
Capitol Hill and Justice Department investigators have signaled interest in interviewing Flynn as they probe allegations of ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Earlier this week, Flynn, through his attorney, offered to deliver that testimony in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
On Twitter Friday, Trump wrote that he supported his former national security adviser’s immunity request “in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”
On Saturday, the White House referred questions on the matter to Flynn.